December 14, 2019 My Holidays Used To Be Fun Until…!! Hi Brandon, I used to enjoy the holidays, but after last year I’m starting to feel more like a grumpy “Grinch.” Since I’m the oldest kid in my family, it seems like I’m always stuck babysitting. I have to watch my younger brother and sister (and sometimes even my cousins) while the adults in my family do things like shop, go out to dinner, and attend holiday parties. And, it’s happening again this year, too! Bah Humbug!! I’d love to hang out with my friends and have a little fun too! What should I do? A Not-So-Merry Christmas Dear A Not-So-Merry Christmas, It sounds like your family has forgotten that you’re not their worker elf, and you have a life of your own. It’s probably because they’re spending tons of money on shopping and dinners, so they don’t want to pay for an actual babysitter. Before you turn green and make the full transition to the “mean one” (Mr. Grinch), try these two things to make them see the (Christmas) light. Put yourself on their side. You could very easily get frustrated and scream, “I’m not your Cinderella! Find someone else to watch these rug rats – I’m out!” But that probably won’t get you very far. They’ll think you’re ungrateful for everything they’ve done for you, and probably tell you something that starts with “When you live under our roof…” (Nothing good ever follows that phrase.) Instead, pretend you’re a team with them. You guys are all the older people with full social lives, and you’re working together to make sure the younger kids are looked after. So, you could say, “It looks like I have a dance on the 19th, and you guys have a party. We could ask Aunt Gertrude to come over. Or maybe I could ask around at my school to see who’s willing to babysit for cheap. What do you think?” This way, it looks like you’re trying to help them, not bail on them. Give a little and take a little. It’s unlikely they’re going to completely let you off the hook for babysitting. Even if Aunt Gertrude does help a little, or they do find some other cheap options, they probably won’t be able to resist the free option right in their own home. So, maybe you could say, “I’m happy to help out because I love you guys and I don’t want you to miss out on all your fun holiday plans. But I have some plans of my own. I can do this night, but I would really appreciate having this night off.” This way, you’re not leaving them high and dry – you’re just asking them to give a little back to you. And it is the season of giving! After all you’ve done, it will probably be hard for them to say no! And now, here’s one piece of advice for when you get stuck babysitting. You mentioned that you used to enjoy the holidays, but all this forced child labor is turning you into a mini-Scrooge. I’m sure it’s not always fun to be stuck at home with your younger siblings and cousins, but maybe it can be sometime. You could plan a holiday movie night. If you’re artistic, you guys could work on some kind of Christmas crafts. (I know this girl who makes all kinds of awesome art projects. I’ll see if she has any ideas!) You could even ask your parents to let you invite a friend as a co-babysitter. They might say no to that one, but if they do, maybe you can Skype babysit together. I know it’s not the same as actually hanging out with a friend, but at least you’ll have someone to talk to who doesn’t need you to wipe their snot or fill their sippy cup with juice. I hope this helps! Hey readers, what fun things do you have planned for the holidays? Do your parents ever ask you to babysit around this time of year? Any advice for A Not-So-Merry Christmas?